Capital of Basketball coming Nov. 2019 – preorder now!

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Cover: The Capital of BasketballTHE CAPITAL OF BASKETBALL

A History of DC Area High School Hoops
John McNamara, with Andrea Chamblee and David Elfin
Foreword by Coach Gary Williams

The celebration of Washington, D.C. basketball is long overdue. D.C. metro area stands second to none in its contributions to the game. Countless figures who have had a significant impact on the sport over the years have roots in the region, including E.B. Henderson, the first African-American certified to teach physical education in public schools in the United States, and Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to take the court in an actual NBA game. The city’s Spingarn High School produced two players – Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing – that are recognized among the NBA’s 50 greatest at the League’s 50th anniversary celebration. No other high school in the country can make that claim.
These figures and many others are chronicled in this book, the first-ever comprehensive look at the great high school players, teams and coaches in the D.C. metropolitan area.
Based on more than 150 interviews, The Capital of Basketball is first and foremost a book about basketball. But in discussing the trends and evolution of the game, McNamara also uncovers the turmoil in the lives of the players and area residents as they dealt with issues such as prejudice, educational inequities, politics, and the ways the area has changed through the years.


John McNamara (@CapitalofBBall) was a staff writer for the Annapolis Capital newspaper. He earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland and spent over 30 years covering local, college, and professional sports. He won several awards from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association for his writing. McNamara was one of five employees of the Annapolis Capital who were gunned down in a mass shooting at the newspaper on June 28, 2018. He was 56 years old.

Andrea Chamblee (@AndreaChamblee), John McNamara’s widow, covered high school basketball for her community paper and attended more than 500 college and high school games in the D.C. metro area often with her husband, the best play by play man she ever met. She has barked from the stands for a switch from zone to back to man-to-man, much to his dismay.

David Elfin (@David Elfin) who has called D.C. home since 1965, has covered local sports for most of the last four decades while writing seven books on Washington sports and serving on the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame selection committee.

Preorder The Capital of Basketball here.

312 pp., 7 x 10
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781626167209 (1626167206)

November 2019
LC: 2019004745

 

Major milestone for Magruder coach

harwoodDan Harwood quietly just keeps adding to his resume.

The longtime Magruder High School basketball coach passed another milestone last week when he won his 500th career game. Outside of Derwood (MD), his accomplishment drew little attention.

But it bears noting, even if most in the local prep basketball world remain focused on the schools in the WCAC.

Continue reading Major milestone for Magruder coach

Gene Doan, a basketball architect

Gene_Doane

When Gene Doane was a young man, he thought he might become an architect or an engineer.

“I always had an interest in designing things,” he once said.

Ultimately, he was diverted from such pursuits. Basketball was in his blood, so instead he became a coach – a builder of successful high school basketball programs, an architect of winning teams.

Doane, who passed away last month at the age of 82, was one of the most successful coaches in Montgomery County – back when Montgomery County basketball was at its peak. From 1971-79, county schools won a dozen state titles. It took them another 30 years to win their next 12.

Doane compiled a 441-113 record and won with three programs – Sherwood in the 1960s, Blair in the 1970s and Seneca Valley during a half-dozen years there in the 1980s.

He won a pair of state championships at Blair, in 1975 and 1977. His success there is what he was most famous for locally. The ’75 team, which finished 23-2, probably set the standard for excellence among Montgomery County basketball teams.

“They were unreal,” marveled Mel Laughner, who coached at Sherwood at the time and led that school to a state title in 1979.

Doane probably could have stayed at Blair forever and won a few more titles – that was home to him, after all – his alma mater. But he grew restless if he stayed anyplace too long. He was constantly looking for another project to work on. To him, the real satisfaction in coaching was building something.

“I liked to get to a high school, put it on top and stay there for a couple of years and go on to another one,” he said. “It’s fun to do that. I never stayed at a school more than nine years.

“I liked challenges. I loved going to a school, building from scratch and making a winner.”

That’s what he did. He guided Sherwood to the state semifinals in 1965 – that school’s first-ever appearance in the state tournament. Then came the two Class AA state titles at Blair. At Seneca Valley, he took over the program at a football-crazy school in 1978. By 1981-82, he had the Screaming Eagles 23-1 and was named “Coach of the Year” in the metropolitan area by The Washington Post.

He did this by being fiery, meticulous and leaving nothing to chance. No matter where he coached, he went the extra mile. At every stop, he watched junior high games, met with kids and adults in the community, tried to place his team in a strong summer league and started basketball camps.

He was just as detail-oriented when it came to practices and games. He constantly drilled his players – he always thought other coaches did too much scrimmaging – breaking the game down into its component parts so that players could understand and execute what he wanted.

One day, when legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith came by a Blair workout on a recruiting trip,he was heard to say as he was leaving the gym, “Now that’s how you run a practice.”

“He wasn’t a coach, he was a teacher,” said Cedric Boatman, one of the stars on that ’75 Blair team. “What made him so good was his preparation. The reason Coach Doane’s teams won so much was because we were so prepared in practice.”

Doane delighted in the intricacies of in-game strategy as well. Someone like Springbrook’s John Barrett would adjust to something Doane was doing, and Doane would have to counter it.

“I think the main joy he got out of coaching – aside from the relationships he had with us – was figuring out how to counteract things and figuring out how to make things work with the pieces he had,” said Brian Magid, the shooting star of the ’75 Blair team.

Doane found plenty of challenging opponents in the county coaching ranks back then. From 1977-79, for example, county teams won eight of the 12 state championships contested in four Maryland classes. At one point in the late 1970s, there were eight county coaches working the sidelines who had won at least one state championship.

There was Barrett at archrival Springbrook, Laughner at Sherwood, Jim Conner at Rockville, Dale Miller at B-CC and Wootton, Tom George at Woodward, Hank Galotta at Paint Branch and Les Lombardi at Churchill – all of whom won state titles for the county during the 1970s.

“The coaches they had then – they worked at the game,” Doane once said. “They knew the game, so you had to be good to beat them.”

His players and his colleagues could always appreciate the passion he brought to coaching. To the public at large, however, he could sometimes come off like a madman. No one was more animated on the sidelines and often the only thing louder than his sportcoat was his voice as he yelled at his players. Maryland’s Gary Williams wouldn’t be an inappropriate comparison in that respect.

But his players came to understand – although maybe not always in the moment – what Doane was trying to do.

“If I can say this in the most affectionate way, he was a taskmaster,” said Willis Wilson, who played on the ’77 Blair team and later became a college coach himself. “He was very driven and very detailed. He always used to say, ‘There’s a method to my madness.’ He was always going to keep the heat on his players and his teams to really reach down and find their best.”